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Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake - Finished dish fresh out of the oven on wooden trivet with fresh basil leaves and scattered cheese on blue background - Hero shot

Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake

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Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake is a heartier, make-ahead gluten-free twist on pizza with the classic combination of sausage and peppers.  It's perfect cool-weather comfort food!
Course Beef
Cuisine Italian
Diet Gluten Free
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Servings 8
Calories 417


  • Cooking spray


  • 3 cups chicken broth or water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg

Sausage and Peppers

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 links Italian sausage spicy or mild, casings removed
  • ½ large red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper seeds and membranes removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 large green bell pepper seeds and membranes removed, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 can (15-ounce) crushed tomatoes or 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning divided
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese divided
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish, optional


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2-quart round baking dish with cooking spray.


  • Bring chicken broth or water, salt, butter and garlic to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly stir in the polenta and cook until thickened, approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat then stir in Parmesan cheese and egg.
  • Immediately transfer to the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes.

Sausage and Peppers

  • While polenta base is baking, heat olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up and crumbling the meat as it cooks until it's cooked through and no longer pink, approximately 7-8 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and bell pepper to drippings remaining in the pan. Cook 4-5 minutes or until softened but still have some "bite." Stir in garlic and cook briefly, 30 seconds.
  • Combine crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper flakes. (This can be done right in the can using a small spoon to stir.) If using prepared marinara sauce, omit the Italian seasoning.
  • Spread seasoned crushed tomatoes or marinara sauce over the polenta.
  • Sprinkle with half the cheese.
  • Evenly distribute the sausage and peppers over the tomatoes/sauce.
  • Top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes or until hot, bubbling and cheese is nicely melted.
  • Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired.


SUBSTITUTIONS:  Substitute turkey or chicken Italian sausage.  Give the recipe a Southwestern twist with chorizo, Monterey jack cheese and Poblano peppers.
MAKE AHEAD:  Can be assembled 1-2 days in advance. Add 15-20 minutes to the baking time.
FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  Bake as directed.  Cool and cut into quarters or wedges.  Wrap securely or place in an airtight container.  Freeze up to 3 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat in the oven at 350 degrees.
TO REHEAT LEFTOVERS:  Cut into wedges and heat individual wedges at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 417kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 1170mg | Potassium: 357mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1168IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 325mg | Iron: 2mg